A few weeks ago I accompanied James and Tanika to the Bay Area Mechanical Keyboard Meetup–perhaps one of my most ‘South Bay’ experiences to-date. The event took over at Mosaic, a restaurant in San Jose, with both companies (such as Massdrop and WASD), and individuals showcasing their keyboards.
It’s fantastic to see how much creativity and personality people express through their keyboards. I’m personally fond of the diminutive Planck by OLKB, and it was great to see so much variety in even this little keyboard.
In addition to the commonplace Cherry MX switches and everyday key-caps, there were a number of builds using different switches and older manufacturing processes. James and I were particularly impressed with the feel of this Preonic-like JJ50 keyboard by Evan, which employed DSA Honeywell key-caps and Box Royal switches.
And, needless to say, there was also an IBM Model M in attendance:
There were many split keyboards, with a Rorschach, Helix, and various Iris keyboards, to name but a few. The looped cables give these real character, and there are some fantastic meta keys on the Rorschach.
There were also many keyboards from older systems: one chap brought his collection of mechanical calculators, and I was overjoyed to finally have a chance to try out a Curta calculator.
After far too much time away, I’m taking the opportunity of a Thanksgiving break to return to Tokyo for a few days. It’s wonderful how familiar and homely the place still feels after all this time.
On Monday, having an hour or so before catching up with my friend Nao, I stopped by Shibuya, and–indulging my professional curiosity–checked out the new Apple Store.
One of the fantastic things about Tokyo is the myriad interesting architectural features that can be found thoroughout the city, new (like the Apple Store, and the ever-changing faces of Ginza) through old. I am particularly fond of the pervasive almost-Brutalist architecture and how it ages.
As is always the case, the afternoon spent with Nao was one of good taste and design: we stopped by an au store to check out the 15 year anniversary reimagining of the INFOBAR–a cellphone design that was already on its second iteration when I was living in Tokyo. It provides a real breath of fresh air in today’s homogenous world of all-screen phones.
Afterwards, we explored the area around Nao’s home, near Shinagawa, and took in some of the creative pieces there: I’ve come to really appreciate street art during my time living in San Francisco, and it was fun to see the local take.
During our time together, we also had the opportunity to discuss one of the fascinating projects Nao is working on–it is a true pleasure to be able to share life with so many inspiring and creative people.
On Michael’s encouragement, I’ve brought my DSLR along for the ride and am enjoying experimenting with just a 50 mm lens. I’ll be publishing my photos along the way.